Mice used to study ALS. Photo: Whitney Hayward/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Neuroscientists studying birds, mice, and fish are landing seven-figure salaries in Silicon Valley to help advance artificial intelligence for self-driving cars and more, reports Bloomberg.

The big picture: Tech companies are raiding universities for specialized animal researchers to help them understand how mice and other animals learn in hopes of teaching computers or autonomous vehicles to do the same.

  • "With whole new industries at stake, the race to unlock the secrets of the animal mind is getting weird," Bloomberg writes.

What's happening: Married Harvard neuroscientists Mackenzie and Alex Mathis record the decision-making activity of mice playing tiny video games, for instance. And Drew Robson and his partner, Jennifer Li, study zebra fish, a type of minnow whose bodies are transparent when they’re young, which allows researchers to observe their neurons at work.

  • The pair uses a special mobile microscope they developed to record which neurons are active while the fish swim, adapting to changing conditions.
  • It's similar to the way their Tesla's driving skills evolve with each Autopilot software update, Robson tells Bloomberg.

The bottom line: AVs need better artificial intelligence to advance beyond basic object recognition to human-like decision-making. They might learn a thing or two from mice and fish.

Go deeper: GM cars get new brains, nervous system for self-driving EV era

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Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms tests positive for coronavirus

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms consoles the family of Rayshard Brooks on June 23 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Curtis Compton-Pool/Getty Images

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said on Monday that she has tested positive for the coronavirus after displaying no symptoms.

Why it matters: Lance Bottoms, one of several Black women on the shortlist to be Joe Biden's running mate, has risen to national prominence in recent months as part of a mass protests over racism and police brutality — driven in part by the killing of Rayshard Brooks by Atlanta police.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 11,520,461 — Total deaths: 535,499 — Total recoveries — 6,231,052Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 2,911,888 — Total deaths: 130,101 — Total recoveries: 906,763 — Total tested: 35,515,075Map.
  3. Public health: Case growth outpacing testing in hotspots.
  4. States: West Virginia becomes latest state to mandate facial coverings in public.
  5. Politics: Cuomo accuses Trump of "enabling" the coronavirus surge — Sen. Chuck Grassley opts out of attending GOP convention over coronavirus concerns.

Trump ramps up culture war attacks

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump's attacks are spreading to sports that are cornerstones of rural, conservative white American life.

Why it matters: The culture war that engulfed the NBA and NFL is reaching other major leagues, with teams that stonewalled activists for years suddenly showing a willingness to listen.